experience vs MA
Thread poster: Will Masters

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 19, 2011

hi guys

I apologise for asking you all a variation of a question that has no doubt been asked countless times before but...

I am a student of languages, specialising in translation and interpreting. I have some experience in translation (mainly volunteer work) and have just been taken on by another ONG organization that is offering me a steady flow of work to be translated. Obviously I would prefer more paid work, but as the work I get from paying clients is few and far between at the moment I see no reason why not to try and continue building up my experience.

I had strongly considered doing an MA in translation/translation and interpreting, but with tuition prices going up to what they have done for the year 2012 onwards this is looking less and less likely - in the UK at least.

So far the agencies I have had dealings with are able to offer me little bits of work here and there in a freelance capacity without needing/wanting an MA, but I'm aware of the fact that many agencies require a higher qualification than a BA if I want to be considered for inhouse translation posts.

The question that I would like to put to you all is this: is there a minimum word count (multiples of 1000) that may be expected by an agency to show I have experience in any given field, if I wanted to do in house translations after graduation in June 2012 without an MA?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Maybe there are alternatives Sep 19, 2011

Hello guille22 and welcome to ProZ.com. Here's my 2 cents' worth.

guille22 wrote:
I have some experience in translation (mainly volunteer work) and have just been taken on by another ONG organization that is offering me a steady flow of work to be translated.


Already, that's a definite sign that the quality of your translations is acceptable, and that's extremely important - you can show potential clients previous translations, especially ones that have been published on the web without major changes.

I had strongly considered doing an MA in translation/translation and interpreting, but with tuition prices going up to what they have done for the year 2012 onwards this is looking less and less likely - in the UK at least.


I really can't advise on this, seeing as I dont have a BA, let alone an MA! However, perhaps you could do a lot better than an MA in the UK. Looking at your profile, two things struck me as being perhaps the points to concentrate on:

- you have very limited experience living/working in countries where your source languages are spoken
- you have limited knowledge of your specialisations

So I wonder whether it might not be more beneficial to do an MA in translation in Spain/Italy, or studies in your specialisations, or some professional experience in your specialisations (e.g. a job in international tourism, maybe a guide visiting various countries and using all your languages on the way).

I suggest this because it appears that you have already received training in translation studies during your BA. However, I don't know what's really important for an inhouse job as I've never had the remotest wish to do one.

Sheila


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:37
French to English
+ ...
Maybe "see how it goes..."? Sep 19, 2011

I think Sheila offers good advice -- as you've already started doing some "real world" translation, think about doing an MA if it can also bring you something *else* apart from just translation practice per se (which indeed could be being in another country for your studies, or maybe a combined masters in a subject area + language...).

On the other hand, you don't *have* to do your MA immediately if you eventually decide to do one. I speak slightly hypocritically, because I did do my master's straight after my degree. And if it was a couple of years ago, I might have said "quick, do it now before the prices go up". But, as you say, they already did...

So I would be slightly tempted to "give it a year or two" of trying to build up some translation clients and see how you actually find translation in the real world. This will tell you if you really need and want to do the master's.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:37
Flemish to English
+ ...
Two M.A.'s. Sep 20, 2011

M.A. in translation : A waste of your youth/time. You better choose another course of study as a preparation for an M.A. in interpreting after a few years of working-experience in different countries where the language of your working language is spoken: a definite plus. Smaller market.

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Glenda Terenzi
Italy
Local time: 02:37
English to Italian
+ ...
Definitely experience Sep 20, 2011

Hello Guille, if your plans so far are to work in-house it would probably be a good idea to do an internship in one of your source-language countries rather than an MA. This way you would improve your language skills, familiarise with CAT tools as well as with other subject matters, and find out you might actually want to specialise in something very specific.

It hasn’t been that long since I finished university (and an MA) myself and I can assure you your views might change completely once you start working (my experience: as a student, I would never have thought I might actually find it interesting to translate a business text or a technical manual).

The question that I would like to put to you all is this: is there a minimum word count (multiples of 1000) that may be expected by an agency to show I have experience in any given field, if I wanted to do in house translations after graduation in June 2012 without an MA?


I am sorry I can’t help you with this since I have never worked for an agency, but again, if you work as an intern, you can have the agency certify that you have translated a certain amount of words in such and such subject (which I am sure would make a great addition to your CV).

The best of luck,
Glenda


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AntDunn
Local time: 01:37
German to English
Experience is better Sep 20, 2011

Hi Guille,

I was in a similar situation to yourself after graduating in 2008, and I also found that a lot of companies seemed to require an MA in order to be considered.

At the time I found the cost of an MA totally impossible (and the fees were much lower then...), so I tailored my search by sending applications to smaller agencies who I thought would look beyond the simple "MA, yes/no?" tickbox approach and consider more broad factors, such as your experience of voluntary translations. After a few months I did manage to secure an in-house position, despite no MA or even general translation experience, and I've certainly not felt hindered in any way by only holding a BA.

At my agency we look for an average of 2000 words a day from an experienced translator. However, I doubt any agency would expect that if you joined as an intern or trainee. My advise would be to research agencies (either in the UK or abroad) that may offer work experience or short-term paid positions and show what you can do. Once you've got that difficult first foot in the door, you've got the opportunity to impress, improve your CV and hopefully move on to a full-time position.

Personally I don't feel the cost/potential benefit ratio of an MA is worth it if you plan to be an in-house translator; a willingness to learn, a "feel" for your source languages and attention to detail/quality are much more important. However, my colleagues on Proz are much better placed to advise you if you want to take the freelance translator route

Good luck in your search!

Anthony


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Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
further specialisation and time abroad needed Sep 20, 2011

thanks guys for your thoughts on the subject. I think your right in what you say about needing to get more experience abroad (something that I would definately like to do in the forseeable future) and have a greater range and depth of specialisation skills.

if any of you could suggest a route into the travel and tourism industry (as that is probably the area that I have the most experience in? alternatively, having received an offer of translating a few short stories this morning, possibly literature?


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Simon March  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:37
Member (2010)
German to English
"experience vs MA" Sep 21, 2011

Dear all,

I actually completed an MA in Translation last year at the University of Surrey in the UK.

You do though have to have some sort of experience/feel for translation BEFORE starting the course. I personally came from an engineering and IT background when I did my MA. Most, if not all of the others on my course were language graduates or linguists.

The MA also gives you some translation practice as well as theory. Also while it may not get you jobs as such it does I think help get you noticed at potential customers.

So bottom line if you can spare the time and think that you could benefit from an MA or MSc then go for it.

All the best

Simon


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Kaj Genell
Sweden
Local time: 02:37
English to Swedish
+ ...
Some terms studying philosophy abroad Sep 21, 2011

Hi!
My personal advice is to use some time studying a couple of terms abroad, and take a Philosophy course. There is haply no places in the world,(na...) where exact language is so much valued, and so easily learnt by the "necessity" to understand and to participate as a Philosophical Institution.
Studies in philosophy has 1.) increased my speed in gathering, as well as 2.) the capability of sorting information and to 3.) reformulate it , and has by far been the most valuable years during my time at the university, wich was utterly long and diversified.

All the best!

Kaj B. Genell


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